15 May 2014 | 12 Comments
Approximately 1 month ago, after my Tuscany Kickstarter campaign had ended, a backer sent me a message about a new campaign run by another company that had some very familiar text on the project page in the “Why Pledge Now” section:
Pretty similar, right? They didn’t offer a money-back guarantee, but everything else is there, almost verbatim.
When I saw this, I flipped down to the end of the page to the Risks and Challenges section to see if the project creator had credited Tuscany or Stonemaier Games for the original version of the text. Nothing there.
Now, this really isn’t a huge deal. Project page text isn’t proprietary information, and the whole point of what I do on this blog and on Kickstarter is to help other project creators and their backers. I’m flattered that this creator used Tuscany’s project text as a template for their project page if they found it to be an effective way to communicate to backers.
Rather, I think this is a foundation for a Kickstarter Lesson: It never hurts to give credit.
It never hurts to give credit. Think about your life. When someone credits you (this is different than when someone blames you for something–credit is a good thing) for doing something you actually did, it feels good, right?
This is why people say that hyperlinks are the currency of the internet (not Bitcoin!). If you write a blog entry that cites another blog, that blogger probably won’t know about it unless you insert a link in your post to their entry. Also, readers of your post won’t be able to click over to the other blog unless you insert the link. So by including the hyperlink, it’s like giving a small tip to the other blogger, and I guarantee that they will appreciate it.
Conversely, it can hurt to not give credit. And I’m not even talking about the repercussion of plagiarism–I’m talking about the human spirit. Think about the last time at work that you did something you were proud of, and someone else took credit for it or didn’t give you credit for it. How did that feel?
You get the same feeling when you see your name in the list of proofreaders or playtesters in a rulebook. There’s a sense of pride, of ownership. It feels good to be credited.
Translate that to Kickstarter. You’re a backer on a project, and you sent a neat idea the project creator in a private message. That creator later posts an update with that same idea, but they don’t mention you at all. How does that feel?
Again, usually this isn’t a huge deal. 10 other people may have sent the same idea to the creator, or the creator may have had the same idea well before you sent it to him or her. Rather, not only is it a lost opportunity to make a backer feel good, but the creator has also probably made at least one person feel bad. Sometimes the success or failure of a Kickstarter project can hinge on how those good and bad feelings add up over time.
No one is perfect. I’m sure that I’ve missed opportunities to give credit in the past. Usually it’s because I can’t remember who mentioned the idea to me, or I read something online and can’t find the original link despite frantic Googling. But I do my best to give credit as often as possible, and if someone calls me out on it, I make up for it in the future.
It’s Important to Credit Yourself
I’ve had this blog entry idea on the back burner for a while, but I’m glad I didn’t write it until today. Just this morning, the designer of Tuscany Automa and Stonemaier advisory board member Morten Monrad Pedersen sent me a great article by Raph Koster. If you check it out, the section that really stood out to me is called “Then you take credit.”
In that section, Raph talks about the importance of properly crediting yourself for your work. Be humble and honest about it, of course–and when you’re wrong, take responsibility–but when you make something, you deserve credit for it. This is your reputation you’re building, your brand. Put your name on your work and be proud of it.
In that same section, Raph adds that you should say “we,” not “I.” I understand what he’s getting at–it’s rare that anyone will create anything all by themselves–but I actually recommend the opposite. People often use “we” because it sounds more credible than “I.” If you run a one-man show, use “I”. As in “I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign.” Sure, you had artists and designers and backers and maybe even business partners who gave you advice and support. But did they run the campaign? No, you did. Take credit for your work.
A side benefit is that if you get in the habit of taking credit for your work with the singular “I” instead of “we,” that will carry over to taking responsibility or blame. “We” didn’t mess up. I messed up. Taking responsibility and ownership for your failures is just as important as taking credit for your successes.
What do you think? Can you think of an example on Kickstarter where giving credit made a visibly positive impact on the campaign or your response to the campaign?